Need It, Worse by JC Jaye

TANSY: ONE

I found him!

Glory be, I found him. Just when I’d about given up on this dismally stocked popsicle stand, I’d lucked out and found him. Wahoo!

And who, pray tell, is he, you may ask? Why, none other than Mr. July himself.

Or, in Tansy-lingo, my Flavor of the Month.

Flushing furiously at my newfound boldness, I forced myself to repeat that dirty phrase in my mind, glancing around the big-box warehouse self-consciously as my lips silently whispered four itty-bitty, raunchy words to a battalion of price-slashed Wet Vacs.

Flavor of the Month. Flavor of the Month. Fuck of the Month.

The tips of my ears flamed like match heads.

Tansy Tara Martin, you naughty, naughty girl!

Fist to mouth, I sputtered out a nervous guffaw, turning it into a fake cough when some grizzled old dude ambling past lugging a shiny new set of power tools arrowed me a puzzled glance.

I felt my skin sizzle up a notch. Good God, was this semi-confident seductress really me? I could scarcely believe it. Cripes, look at the difference a few short months makes, willya? Eyes prickling, I swallowed hard, hands clenching on my shopping wagon’s handle.

Hmm… Guess having your mom off herself with half a bottle of Raspberry Absolut and a whole handful of pretty little pills makes a gal rethink her mortality and what she wants out of life, doesn’t it?

No! No, dumbo, not now!

Forcing myself to sweep a heaping truckload of raggedy emotions under my trusty Can’t-Deal-With-It doormat and stick to the plan at hand, I straightened spaghetti-strapped shoulders and licked lightly-glossed lips, drinking in my quarry’s fineness from afar. Humming a random ditty to soothe my jangly nerves, I pushed my buggy in the wake of that sexy bejeaned backside, keeping a safe distance for now.

Take your time, girl… No rush… Slow an’ easy does it…

Smoothing down my ruffly, barely-there skirt while trying to ignore “what’s she doing here” looks from scruffily garbed working stiffs of various shapes and sizes, my fumbling fingers plucked random items from overstuffed endcaps as I click-clacked along on sweet new heels, wishing the industrial floors didn’t echo quite so loudly under my hot-pink spikes.

(Jimmy Choo’s, last season, but still seriously awesome. Marked down an unprecedented 15 percent, and that was on top of the preferred customer coupon I’d been hoarding for ages. This after bossy-boots Mickie had instructed me I’d be “the all-time idiot in the history of idiots” not to crack open my pocketbook and splurge.)

Another slobby shopper threw me a perplexed once-over, his bulgy eyeballs lingering on my half-exposed boobs, and I looked away, feeling like a freak.

Jeez, maybe I overdid it a tad with the come-hither duds

Discreetly yanking up my bodice, I grumbled under my breath. Damn. I probably should’ve stuck with the basic shorts-and-seen-better-days-T-shirt getup like all the other females roaming around the place, instead of dressing for the kill in a thigh-high frock better suited for a sassy summer soiree.

Ah well, too late now. Head lowered, I hurried past Bulgy Eyes, trying not to wipe out as I ramped up the speed.

Suddenly I blinked down, gaze focusing.

Whoa.

For someone who wasn’t here to actually buy stuff, this cart was filling up pretty dang fast. And You Know Who was supposed to be on a budget. Not counting ridiculously priced footwear, of course. But come on, who in their right mind could blame me? God’s honest, the deals were insane in this place. And, hey: could I help it if I so happened to be the type to overspend when antsy? No, I could not.

Mentally justifying, I kept right on grabbing and tossing.

.99 cent box cutter with five bonus blades? Totally need.

Triple pack of masking tape, a steal at $2.29? Must have.

Cute little pocket screwdriver-slash-corkscrew? What, a mere buck fifty? Love! In it went.

I paused, weaving on a fuchsia stiletto. Hmm… At that price, maybe I should snag half a dozen, and hand them out to my troops at happy hour Wednesday, as a little hump-day surprise. Yeah, good idea, Smartie. Thoughtful, too.

Fully aware I was stalling, I sifted around to snag the best colors. And since there was but one sparkly sucker left, I called dibs, seeing I was the one doing all the ding-dang work.

˂Ahem˃

“Can I help you find anything, Miss?”

Throwing in the lot, I smiled politely at the yellow-vested beanpole blocking my path, balancing a tilting tower of lightbulb cartons in his skinny arms. From the way the guy was eyeing up my gams, I had a sneaking suspicion he’d just come booking down whatever aisle he’d been stocking without bothering to set any of that crap down first.

Just a hunch, based on those not-so-subtle laser beams.

Shaking my head “no,” I watched his chin—and about three-quarters of those shifting boxes—crash to the floor.

“CLEANUP, END OF AISLE SEVEN!”

My brows shot north. Boy, somebody around here sure was on the ball.

After lending a hand with a smattering of unbroken packages and offering a mumbled, “sorry about that,” I awkwardly maneuvered my wagon around smashed halogens and your more traditional three-way incandescents, feeling a moment’s panic. Head swiveling like a hoot owl’s, my eyes darted around the hardware-packed hangar a tad frantically.

Shit! Where’d he go? Where’d he go?

+++

I must admit when I’d first spotted my FOTM, I’d figured him for a wood guy. If not wood, possibly windows. Squinting over yonder, a big smile stretched my cheeks. Huh. Looks like I’d been wrong on both counts.

Off in the distance, I saw July veer his smokin’ hot self into aisle number twelve, “Paint,” disappearing from view behind a gaudy color wheel display. Picking up the pace, my grin widened like a jack-o-lantern’s, no doubt rendering me a tad tetched to assorted passers-by. I could hear them now, shaking their heads in my wake.

Check out this fruit loop… Wonder what planet she’s from?

Not that it overly bothered me because, seriously, what a week. Talk about your dumb luck.

First the Jimmy’s, now this!

I mean, twelve was pretty much the best durn aisle a gal could hope for. Second only to “Wallpaper,” and based on the comprehensive data gathered over the past four months since Mom drank her deadly last supper, I was pretty sure my kind of guys rarely bothered with that fussy nightmare, anyhow. Restraining myself from clicking heels together and performing a dorky fist pump, I basked in the goose-bumpy giddiness washing over me.

Yeah, “Paint” was truly the tits… All those migraine-inducing color choices and dizzying shade nuances, not to mention the debate over which sheen to go with. (For my money, you can’t go wrong with a basic washable flat.)

Picturing scads and scads of mind-boggling pigment chips, I could’ve howled with glee. Heck, waaay more opportunity to strike up a conversation there, as opposed to trying to light a spark over boring old pieces of lumber or hideous fiberglass doors.

And insulation? I shuddered. Ugh. Don’t even get me started on that awful aisle!

Quivering with anticipation, I took a quick detour to check my reflection in the “Mirror and Picture Frame” corridor, figuring the Man of the Month was probably just now getting started on the maddening “pick a color, any color” rigmarole. And even if he was here to just grab a basic ceiling white, they still had to stick the sucker on the shaker, right?

Rolling up to one of those cheapo, full-length closet door specials, I peered into the skinny glass, eyes narrowing.

Hmm. Not bad, Martin. Not half bad at all.

Critical gaze sweeping up and down, I chewed my lip, faffing with casually mussed curls as I assessed my short, body-skimming sundress and brilliant heels. Okay, granted, I might be a wee overdressed compared to the rest of the clientele in the joint, but how was anyone to know I wasn’t on my way to some sassy summer soiree, right after I tossed a new toilet seat cover and a shower part or two in my cart?

I mean, no joke… I could be legitimately smack-dab in the middle of a bathroom remodeling crisis, here!

Dithering, I turned this way and that, blushing anew as reflected behind me I spied a pair of hovering yellow vestoids checking out my twisting, floral-sheathed rump. For a sec, I thought about getting affronted, but since they appeared sincere and rather sweet, unlike ol’ Bulgy Eyes, I decided to let it slide. And furthermore, not to blow my own horn, I’ll have you know I work dang hard keeping this kettle corn-addicted keister in check. Dang hard, considering all that extra butter.

Newsflash: I haven’t been crowned unofficial Queen of Spin Class two years running for nothing, thank you very much.

˂Ahem˃

“Can we help you find anything, Miss?”

Arghhhh.

Mouthing a silent, “no, thanks” and flicking a wayward curl behind my ear, I glanced down at Mom’s favorite watch, clasped around my right wrist. Refusing to acknowledge the searing pain that timepiece wrought, I read myself the riot act.

Come on, come on, sistah, no time for soggy sentiment. The clock’s a’ ticking. No more dilly-dallying. It’s Show Time!

White-knuckling the wagon handle and sucking in an Elvis “It’s Now or Never” breath, I executed a tidy three-point-turn, exiting aisle number eight for more exciting pastures four rows over. Rolling past the obnoxious color wheel, my pulses raced, heart hammering beneath its fancy lace bra like gangbusters. Keeping eyes lowered, I peeked beneath half-mast lashes, searching for my unsuspecting prey. Hitting the bullseye in no time flat, I bit tremulous lips.

Oooh, Lordy. There.

The man of the hour was less than twenty feet in front of me, down at the far end of the aisle, frowning at a bunch of color chips clasped willy-nilly in one large, manly hand.

Yowza.

I let myself soak Tall, Dark, and Dreamy in for a moment, feeling lovely, tingly frissons already starting down in my matching lilac thong. Gaping at oodles of tough, tanned arm muscles and a strong brown neck, I tightened ten fingers around their plastic grip, trying not to fall on my face.

Jeez Louise, what a hunk. And I thought my previous picks had been hot? Ha!

Weak with lust, I harkened back to month number one and April’s finalist, shaking my head. Shit—this guy had Joe from “Plumbing” (aisle three) beat by a country mile.

And believe you me, that was saying something.

Parking my buggy alongside a jampacked shelf of primer cans, I smiled, recalling bashful Joe’s various attributes with fondness and yet another scalding blush.

Good ol’ Joe… No one could tell me I hadn’t chosen well my first go-round, real well. Good grief—that faucet-challenged cutie had seemed so jacked to be plucked from Tansy’s Hottie Lottery pool, I was pretty positive it’d never dawned on the sweet thing he’d been doing a clueless, full-fledged virgin in that big, messy bed of his.

Heck, I’d certainly not spilled the beans!

Recalling pertinent points of interest, I felt that maddening wash of blood surge under my skin like wildfire. Darn Irish ancestry!

Yup, I was certain “my first” had been none the wiser as to what little membrane he’d gone and ruptured so negligently on April Fools’ Day. (This gal’s never gonna forget that particular holiday, you betcha.)

Well, those triple-shot rum and colas I’d plied him with before we’d hit the sheets hadn’t exactly hurt with the man’s memory loss, that was for sure.

Good thing for me Joeyboy kept himself a well-stocked bar. And if you want my two cents, I was only being a considerate guest: ripping the bedding from under him and stuffing all that glaring evidence in his washer, while “Captain Morgan” lay spread-eagled and comatose, a dopey grin plastered on his passed-out, snoring puss.

Would you not agree?

˂Ahem˃

“Can I help you find anything, Miss?”

Man, these dudes needed to change up their lines once in a while.

“Er, no, thanks. I’m good. Found the primer, here. Yep, all good.”

Get out of the way, dork! Move! You’re blocking the freaking view!

Waiting until Mr. Helpful vacated the premises, I grabbed the closest can as a handy prop, holding it up to my face and peering over its shiny lid like a certified creeper as I honed in on my current quarry, comparing and contrasting.

Oh yeah, no question that ultra-appreciative popper of my past-due cherry had been fine, if inarguably tipsy, but this fine hunk of beefcake? All sorts of girly parts tingled and twitched as I squeezed bare thighs together, eyefucking my big game covertly.

April versus July? Hells bells… No. Friggin’. Contest!

For one thing, Mr. How-Long-Is-Your-Paintbrush wasn’t pretty-boy-handsome like eager, “I aim to please” Joe. Nope, no clean-cut, preppy blond vibe going on here. My squint narrowed. Nosiree, Bob. This tasty treat had more of a wicked, little-bit-dirty kind of hotness about him that was a thousand times sexier, in my book. Not to mention, he was really built—huge and muscular.

As if sensing twin spotlights of female lasciviousness boring into his flesh, that shaggy head started to turn, and I dropped my gaze fast, staring down at a round of tin. Holding seized-up breath and gripping the can tight, I shifted on my bargain spikes, working on not drooling on merchandise I hadn’t paid for.

No! Don’t look, mister, not yet! I’m not quite ready!

Luckily, at that precise juncture, McSmokin’ was ambushed by a sunny-hued helper who fancied himself a color expert, leaving me free to carry on my rapid-fire examination without detection. Lowering my camouflage, I happily agreed with that last observation, the one concerning all those intriguing, sun-kissed muscles.

God, yes, was this guy stacked… But I’m not talking gym rat, obnoxiously muscular. Nuh, uh. More like hardworking, hardplaying, naturally muscular. Even to a wet-behind-the-ears greenhorn such as myself, that shit was obvious as the noonday sun.

My active little peepers bounced like perverted pinballs over broad, anvil-like shoulders and a delectably wide, T-shirt-swathed chest, lingering on bulgy, bejeaned thighs and lean, snaky hips.

Bounce, bounce, bounce, ping!

Jesus Christmas, what a bod.

And holy cow, that face

I gobbled it up greedily from my temporary stalker’s station. Ye gods, it was truly a great one—brutally handsome, breathtakingly male. Studying rough, dark stubble peppered over an angular jaw and chiseled upper lip, my nether parts spasmed with mounting excitement.

Boy, check out that mouth, willya? All wide and cut and borderline cruel-looking, set like a tough jewel in all that bad boy scruff. I felt the ol’ crimson tide ratchet up another degree as I scrutinized it from afar, wishing someone would crank up the A/C in this joint.

Ooh, daddy… With a kisser like that, the man had to know how to use it, and use it well. Trust me, a newly initiated hornball could just tell.

Dragging reluctant eyeballs from its panty-dropping perfection, I studied July’s overlong, messy brown hair, an equally messy streak of dried paint smeared over a sinewy forearm, and the way those disreputable duds fit him in all the right places. Unable to help myself, my gaze dipped south.

Let me reiterate that. All the right places.

I blinked thrice at what appeared, at least from this distance, to be an extremely snug, extremely well-endowed crotch. Snug enough and endowed enough to make a poor girl dizzy.

Okay, forget a “little-bit-dirty.” Make that a “lot-bit-dirty.”

I wheezed in a shallow breath, gasping. Question: did they sell those hand-held fan thingamajigs in this big barn? If so, I needed me one, stat.

Arms falling asleep as I shifted my cylindrical prop higher, I pretended to read “proper primer application” instructions down to the last syllable, continuing Martin’s Lightning-Fast Anatomy Exam from my launching stage; loathe to leave out a single detail as the metal lid dug into my upper cheekbones, no doubt creating permanent creases.

That was okay by me. With this eye candy, a few extra wrinkles were well worth it.

Abandoning X-rated territory before I self-imploded, my gaze shot up, up, up. Mercy, this long drink of nectar was tall. We’re talking six-foot something, which was quite the bonus—I’d recently discovered I had a real thing for guys who towered above me. I stifled a mocking giggle, acknowledging how utterly ridiculous that sounded.

Recently? True dat, Miss Worldly. I’d dare say you’ve recently “discovered” a whole heap of mighty “interesting” things in the past four months, Milady.

Dreamily, I stood picturing our significant height difference on a different scale. Say, for example, a horizontal scale. Like, for instance, in a bed. A bed heaped with lots of soft, squishy pillows. And rocking some strong, thick posts. Cheeks positively ablaze, I shook my head, forcing the erotic images away.

No. No, not yet, you greedy old thing!

I squeezed the can hard, practically crawling into the goop within as July turned, presenting me his broad back and burly, jutting shoulders. My jaw dropped, clunking against cold tin. Lordy mama, lookee there: the man possessed the elusive “V,” an aphrodisiacal attribute rarely seen in the wild.

Bonus!

And…

I swallowed; throat dry as cracker crumbs.

Whoa. Nice. Buns. Mister.

Ogling those tight beauties deliciously showcased in wrecked, faded denim, I struggled not to swoon, figuring that would likely create a real mess, what with this smelly latex stacked all over the goldurn place.

It wasn’t easy, though. Because, besides that great-looking mug and tasty backside, Paint Guy also happened to possess fabulous biceps, my absolute favorite part on a man. (Okay, you got me. My second favorite. But again, that ranking had been modified rather recently.)

Solid ten out of ten, I’d rank those suckers. All right, eleven. Pulses pounding, I sucked in a shaky breath as I traced their taut, veiny curves. Man alive—those chiseled guns looked like he curled pygmy hippos with them daily for kicks, like twenty sets each. Visually caressing them, I immediately revised.

On second thought, make that thirty sets. Lucky-ass hippos.

Not only that. In addition to those insanely buff biceps, Hunkalicious’s tanned forearms were thick and ripped, strung with lean tendons, a look I simply adored. One was all tatted up with intricate black ink, which I planned on inspecting up close and personal very shortly, while its to-die-for mate only had that ugly beige paint adorning its fineness.

I licked ravenous lips once more. Boy. I sure hoped it wasn’t the toxic kind, since I intended doing me a lot of tasting. But if so, sheez, what a way to go!

˂Ahem˃

“Can I help you find any—”

“NO! Er, that is, uh, no thank you, I’m good.”

I flashed my chompers in a fake smile, trying to mitigate the effects of my impatient outburst.

Shit. Maybe I should pry open this lid, dunk a finger inside, and scrawl LEAVE ME ALONE on my forehead to keep the Yellow Ones at bay. In light of all these pesky interruptions, I was seriously considering it.

“Okay, Miss, just let us know. We’re here to help!”

Yeah, yeah. Move along now, bucko.

Squinting past the receding vest and trying not to get saliva all over my pretty flowered boobs, I got back to my urgent studies, which entailed examining the ancient concert tee hugging July’s broad chest like raggedy charcoal shrink-wrap. Flattened against metal shelving like a sale placard, I stared over the bogus prop clutched in my sweaty mitts, arms about to drop out of their sockets.

Petty? Aerosmith? Zep? Too tough to tell from those faded graphics, but rest assured, I planned on finding out soon enough.

(For sentimental reasons, I was hoping Tom P. What a loss to music, his passing. I’d been lucky enough to see him and the Heartbreakers live four whole times. Well, three that I remember in their entirety. Dang pre-show jello shots!)

Moving on, my head-to-heels tour commenced, flicking past a trim, washboard waist to points south. From within my trembling frame, a stern voice scolded.

Hurry it up with the pervy preview, fool, before you get caught.

Sloughing off the offered assistance with a “thanks but no thanks” wave of his hand, my prey shifted, and I was able to truly appreciate how lovingly those scruffy jeans molded July’s brawny quads, and more importantly, get me another gander at what, as previously mentioned, appeared to be quite the sizable package.

And I wasn’t referring to any cardboard-wrapped-kind-of-package, if you get my drift.

Looking away from that tantalizing bulge with a Herculean effort, I finished up my sexalicious sojourn with a pair of beat-to-shit, oversized work boots. Blinking, my sights narrowed. Actually, those boots weren’t big; they were huge.

You know what they say, right? Huge boots, huge…

Fanning my broiling face with a flapping hand, I spied a heavy bunch of keys hanging off a battered leather belt: a hopeful portent Mister Man mayhap managed a handy slew of rental properties.

I grinned, reading the same line about “suggested drying time” over and over again.

Here’s hoping. If so, that would make things nice and easy. The way my stars were aligning, yonder stud man had him a nice, vacant apartment somewhere close by in need of a fresh paint job, and wouldn’t be averse to some complimentary, on-site decorating advice.

As I quietly dribbled, Le Hunk started to stick most of the chips back in their slots, apparently coming to a decision. From back here, it appeared he was leaning toward an insipidly pale buff. Borrrrring! I crinkled my nose, eyeing the winning card with disdain.

Oh no, Hotstuff. Let’s not be too hasty… I’m certain we can do better than that.

Carelessly shoving my prop back with its stinky buddies and praying for the best, I grabbed my cart, rocketing it straight toward Ground Zero, where my hapless victim stood looming in all his pigment-challenged glory.

Hey. Could I help it if I was a shitty driver and wasn’t watching where I was going?

As I rammed full speed into the solid heft of his Levi-wrapped thigh, I simultaneously faked a fairly believable stumble, forcing me to more or less rely on that big, startled bod for balance as I fell against its granite-hard magnificence.

July blinked down with wide, hazel-hued orbs, shooting out two rough hands to steady me at the elbows.

Ooh… Our flesh positively sizzled on contact! I felt it, for sure. And from that hot bar of color staining his tough cheekbones? The way those bedroom eyes drifted down from my own—lingering on lips, boobs, and legs, growing heavy-lidded and darker?

Yeah. Call me a Pollyanna, but I’m pretty sure he felt it, too.

I smiled widely up at Dirty-Handsome, making sure the tip of my tongue showed as I stammered out a husky apology. He stared down mutely, the little chip in his hand fluttering to the floor.

Being an ardent environmentalist, I felt it my civic duty to pick up after this frozen-in-place litterbug. Shoving bothersome buggy aside, I leisurely bent south toward ugly grey concrete, my nose practically kissing a severely misshapen fly as I dipped low, low, low.

Whoa. Nelly.

Lacy thong officially damp after confirming up close just how ample that bulge behind its faded zip was, I continued my downward descent, “Operation Retrieve Paint Chip” in high gear as I displayed modest wares to all and sundry.

A harsh throat-clearing echoed overhead as scuffed steel toes shifted around in front of my upside-down face. I grinned at the utilitarian floor, keeping my tush raised high for a count of ten; getting jazzed to start searching for a more exciting color than plain old predictable buff.

Hey. If you ask me, the man should be overjoyed. I mean, decent decorators these days charged an absolute fortune! This way, the advice was completely complimentary. And came with one heckuva perk.

I smiled wider, slowly straightening back up.

You’re welcome in advance, big guy.

Off to the side, a yellow vest coughed discreetly.

˂Ahem˃

“Yo, can I help you find anything, guys?”

“NO!”

“NO!”